Routines.

I'm someone who enjoys a routine. I'll be the first to say that I love my weekends as unstructured as possible, but when I'm all Type-A going about my week? Yeah, I like routine.

I wake up at the same time every weekday morning, I usually have 1 of 3 of the same breakfasts (smoothie, oatmeal, or toast), and get my workout in every day. I aim for 2x Pilates or Yoga and 3x Cardio (it's always SoulCycle so let's just call a spade a spade and start referring to my cardio as SoulCycle).

I always go to the same instructors at said workouts of choice because 1) I like them, their style of teaching and the way they run their classes and 2) boutique fitness is expensive man... I don't want to gamble with my $30+.

Sometimes sticking to your routine is a great thing - it provides a sense of structure and familiarity, it builds good habits, it increases efficiency (I can make a smoothie in like 2 minutes flat at this point) and it takes will-power out of the equation. I don't have to talk myself into a healthy meal or a workout during the week - it just happens. It's habitual.

But sometimes, it's important to stray from routine and to push past it - even if it's just a small step outside the box.

The other night for example, I went to a  SoulCycle class taught by an instructor I'd been to once before, years ago. Frankly trying something or someone new can be a bit of  a crapshoot- Will I like their style? Their personality? Their music? Their method of teaching? Will it be too easy? Too hard?

SO MANY FACTORS.

Then the instructor walked into the room and it was just... presence.

You can't teach that. The guy just had it.

The class was, for lack of a better description, LIT.

I rode my ass off, I tried harder than I've tried in a while, I pushed myself and I listened. 

Sometimes the message in class resonates with me and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, especially on a Friday night or when I'm tired, I can sell myself short, but make it look like I'm there 110%. Not honestly give it everything I've got, but make it look like I am. I'm pretty sure that's called bullshitting and I'm pretty sure I can do it well at times. (For better or worse.)

That's when the instructor called it out. And I checked myself. (Long before I wrecked myself.) And had this - what the hell? moment. I paid, I showed up, what was I gaining from not going all out?

I walked out of class just... READY. Mostly for a glass of wine and dinner but ready nonetheless.

November is my birthday month and while I'm not one for a month long celebration, it matters to me to be my best self moving into the year ahead. (And getting a head start on actual new year goals - see you in January, suckas.) So I committed to myself in that moment that I'd stop the bullshitting, I'd stop playing small, and I'd start showing up, 100% for myself. 

Had I continued with my routine (that works just fine for me), I may have had that lightbulb moment, and I may not have. And I'd never be any the wiser.

But taking the smallest of steps outside the box showed me something entirely new.

For that, I'll gamble with $30 any day.

How To Do Yoga Without Making It Your Life

I've been pretty vocal about adding yoga into my fitness routine the past few months - it's allowed me to get leaner, stronger, more flexible, and treat my body right after the beatings I put it through running and at SoulCycle. (Oh you didn't know? I LOVE SOULCYCLE and running is... OK.) 

Also I love my SoulCycle people.

I feel like I've had the conversation with friends a billion times.

"Like I SHOULD go to yoga, but I don't want to. At all. Ever. Ugh."

After getting a massage a couple months back where my masseuse literally thought I was a competitive gymnast as a child as it was the only explanation for how f-ed up my alignment, muscles, everything were, I started taking it more seriously. 

And going to yoga. And I like it. I don't love it. I like it. 

I like to workout and sweat and feel strong. Also I like to eat.

Mostly at Equinox honestly - it's clean, they give you all that you need (mat, towel, block, chilled Eucalyptus towel post-class) and I love the instructors, whom they pull from the top studios all over San Francisco.

I wouldn't be me if I devoted 100% of my time to yoga - not throwing shade but I don't love it that much. I look at yoga as a necessary evil - something I need to be doing to give me body a break, stretch and lengthen my muscles, and increase flexibility. It's also great mentally for a Type-A-er like myself.

But quite honestly, a typical 60-minute yoga class goes like this for me:

Pre-Class: So distracted. How full is it going to get in here? How do I ensure that I have personal space on EVERY side of my mat? Is my phone on silent? Where's my water? Should I have grabbed 2 blocks? Why does everyone have a strap? Whatever, I'm flexible.

Minutes 0-6: Everything is tight and I'm dying. My hips hurt. Why am I not breathing as slowly and with as much "intention" as everyone else? Some idiot forgot to put their phone on silent. OH JESUS CHRIST IT'S ME. Sorry, sorry universe. Namaste.

Minutes 6-20: This feels like an excessive amount of chataraungas. Am I doing up-dog right? Should I be body-rolling into it more? I should have gone with the high top-knot vs the braid. Hair all up in my FACE.

Minutes 21-23: I HATE UTKATASANA (chair pose).

Minutes 24-43: I am so good at yoga. What's up Bird of Paradise? Dancer pose? LET'S GO.

Minutes 44-54: Literally have no idea how people get their leg straight in the air during wheel. Mine looks like it's broken. There is no graceful way to get out of wheel. None. Happy Baby. No wonder babies are so happy. THIS IS AMAZING.

Minutes 55-60: ZzzzzzzZzzzzzz (Savasana)

In order to keep up my yoga practice, but also to keep my sanity intact, I've made a little deal with myself.

On days I ride at SoulCycle or run (3ish-x a week), I take myself to yoga in the evenings. Nothing feels better after a sweaty cardio session in the morning than ending the day (and opening your hips and stretching your quads and hamstrings) at yoga.

TRUST ME.

On days I don't, I typically take a long walk and go to Pilates (enter Mighty Pilates - I'm telling you it's life changing).

Boom - incorporating yoga into your life without making it your life.

Start small - you don't have to suddenly become this yogi if you aren't one. I'm not and I'll never be. But look at yoga for what you need it to be for you. Stress relief, a way to wind down after a hectic day, a way to stretch if you know there's no way you'll do it on your own (um, guilty), or just a way to kill an hour with a friend before you grab a glass of wine. 

It's helped my running, my posture, my state of mind, my riding at Soul - everything.

Also it justifies all the "yoga pants" you've dropped thousands of dollas on over the years at Lululemon.

So I'm Doing Yoga for 40 Days

And this is Day 2.

I'm participating in a yoga challenge. 

I KNOW. TRUST ME.

There's apparently a lot of significance in 40 days and creating habits but frankly the first thing that came to mind was that Josh Hartnett movie of our youth, 40 Days and 40 Nights. I'm pretty sure he had some "tech company" specializing in on-demand diaper delivery or something. SO ahead of the trends.

Le sigh, I miss the 90's. And Josh Hartnett.

But back to yoga.

I've been taking a fair amount of classes at Baptiste Yoga SF - the only Baptiste yoga studio in San Francisco, and as such, it is one of my favorites. I love the Power Vinyasa style of yoga (read: SWEATY AND FAST) and the studio is in the Presidio and absolutely gorgeous. My first ever Baptiste experience was actually in NYC - I took Bethany Lyons' SoulCycle class and couldn't feel my legs and then she was like "Oh hey also I own a Baptiste yoga studio called Lyon's Den (CHEEKY), go stretch there". 

So I did. And I was like what is this type of yoga I have never done before and want to do always?

Baptiste. Based on the teachings of Baron Baptiste, an all-around yogi badass,

The Challenge is essentially:

  • 40 days
  • Yoga 6x a week (so, 36x total - class or at home practicing which is generally impossible when you live in 700 sq feet)

Essentially, WAY outside my comfort level.

I'm mixing in SoulCycle, running, Pilates, etc and also taking classes at Equinox because 1) I need my yoga set to music 2) I need a variety of instructors 3) I prefer to not sweat out my body weight every time I practice yoga 4) I need my chilled Eucalyptus towel (I'm SO BASIC, you already know).

40 days of yoga is actually more yoga that I've probably done over the past few years, combined.

But I've really gotten into a (semi) regular practice the last couple of months and I can both see and feel myself getting stronger (WHATS UP CROW POSE) and I'm a little bit curious to see what a committed, consistent practice can do for me.

I'm also essentially terrified because I did my 1/36 class last night and my arms are sore AF from Chataraunga-ing for an hour that I'm skeptical I can continue.

But don't, worry, I will prevail. 

I actually think this may be the most challenging thing I've ever attempted. Because while yoga and I are friendly and like seeing where things go between us, we're in no way exclusive, and we're still (very openly) seeing other workouts.

So here we go.

On Yoga (...and like, life)

You know those days where you're just... conflicted?

You've got a billion things happening and it's just like where do I start?

Me, often.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a long day at work, a long commute home and I still had to :

  • get some type of workout in
  • pack for a weekend away
  • eat dinner/feed myself (um, priority one)
  • get my life in some semblance of order after a busy week
  • do laundry/get quarters

I got off the bus and made it to the gym a few minutes before the last yoga class of the day. I had this, "Do I or don't I?" moment. I could just leave and go home and no one would be the wiser.

Or I could do the hardest part of yoga and just show up and sit down on my mat.

photo via

I went back-and-forth (mentally and physically - I was literally pacing between the locker room and the stairs at Equinox) and finally I just walked into the studio and sat down on my mat.

In the front row.

As a budding-yogi, I'm not entirely comfortable with that. (Big difference between my confidence level in yoga and at SoulCycle I'll tell you that right now.)

The class was a Bhakti Flow class, a method of yoga I'm also not entirely comfortable with. I like my yoga hot, sweaty, fast-paced and of the power variety. 

But I was there. I had shown up and I was on my mat ready to get my down dog on, open my hips and all that ish.

When we started class with the requisite "Om", I was quiet. I barely made a noise. I essentially wanted to curl up and take a nap. I find this happens almost always at the beginning of the class. I'm timid. Quiet. I don't want to participate or I feel like it's weird if I participate. 

Then I start to get into it and by the post-savasana "Om" I'm like the second coming of Adele. 

But I love that about yoga (and subsequently SoulCycle but this is a yoga post) - no one cares. Seriously.

No one cares if you're tired or if your wheel pose isn't perfect or if you have to use a block one day vs another day or if you just want to chill in child's pose the entire class.

Everyone's all like "Do you boo". 

I'm super into that lately. 

So moral of this story? The hardest part is showing up. Always. For just about anything. Seriously think about it; how many times have you had plans and you're just like "I don't want to go to fill-in-the-blank"? Then you suck it up, call your Uber, show up and it ends up being such a great time or you make some new connection or friend and at the end of the event are like, "I'm so glad I went."

Just like yoga. It's good for you. Just show up and sit down on your mat. 

Everything else will fall into place.